The Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food & Markets (VAAFM) announces the availability of grant funds for the purpose of enhancing the competitiveness of Vermont specialty crops, defined as fruits, vegetables, tree nuts, dried fruits, horticulture crops (including honey, hops, and maple syrup), and nursery crops (including Christmas trees and floriculture). These funds are awarded through a competitive review process guided by industry, nonprofit and government stakeholders.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) awards Specialty Crop Block Grants to the 50 States, the District of Columbia, and U.S. Territories. In Vermont, the Agency of Agriculture, Food & Markets administers these funds to enhance the competitiveness of Vermont specialty crops. VAAFM plans to award approximately $200,000 in Specialty Crop Block Grant Program (SCBGP) funds in 2018.
Any business, organization, or individual can apply to the Vermont Specialty Crop Block Grant Program. However, projects must benefit multiple specialty crop businesses, organizations, or individuals to be eligible for funding. The Agency of Agriculture, in partnership with statewide specialty crop stakeholders, has identified the following program funding priorities for 2018:
• Development of innovative horticultural production practices to enhance farm viability and/or natural resource conservation
• Pest and disease management
• Enhancing food safety and improving the capacity of specialty crop businesses to comply with Food Safety Modernization Act or food safety audit program requirements
• Value chain enhancement—including strengthening relationships between producers, aggregators, processers, distributors, retail businesses and consumers—and technical assistance to enhance efficiency and business viability
• Market access (local, regional, national, or international), marketing, branding, and consumer education
• Producer collaboration—including establishing or strengthening producer associations and cooperatives
VAAFM will conduct an information session webinar for prospective applicants on February 2, 2018. Applicants to the Vermont SCBGP must submit a letter of intent by February 28, 2018. A review committee will invite the top-ranking projects to submit full proposals.
Learn more about the Vermont SCBGP, register for the information session webinar, or view the webinar recording at http://agriculture.vermont.gov/vtscbgp.